The X2 - The Threat Demo is another high-end 3D benchmark that takes the form of a rolling demo. It may be technically DirectX 8 in design, but its high-end 3D support and features make this a serious test for current 3D games, and not far removed from our DirectX 9 benchmarking. Once started, the X2 demo displays various game scenes, and incorporates the space-sim aspects of the game into a test run that can really separate the high-end cards from the pack.
The ASUS Radeon 9600XT/TVD falls back a bit in X2 Demo benchmark testing, but while it does drop behind the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra in standard testing, the AA/AF results are extremely close and a virtual dead heat. We also see an incremental step up from the ATI Radeon 9600 Pro, along with a noticeable bump with ASUS dynamic overclocking activated.
The 3DMark 2003 benchmark has seen its fair share of controversy, but as long as the mainstream gaming community is using it, we'll present comparison scores. It does offer a view at potential DirectX 9 gaming performance, as well as offering a specific CPU test and a fully-featured Image Quality suite and Sound Testing feature that were lacking in the 2001SE version.
We're also testing with the latest 340 patch installed. This update evened the field for both ATI and NVIDIA cards, and made sure that there was no 'driver tweaking" going on, from either camp.
3DMark 2003 is the closest race of the entire benchmark roundup, and it's time to flip a coin between the ASUS Radeon 9600XT/TVD and GeForce FX 5700. This is also a benchmark where the video card really makes a difference, and the higher clock speed with the ASUS drivers and Smart Doctor II give us a noticeable speed boost, both in standard and overclocked modes.
AquaMark is a relatively new DirectX 9 benchmark, and although it does not represent an actual game, it does use the same Krass engine as found in products such as Aquanox 2 and Spellforce. AquaMark 3 also supports new features such as Hyper-Threading, Pixel Shader and Vertex Shader 2.0, and uses a wide range of DirectX 9 effects and features. For this review, we've tested in licensed Advanced 1280x1024 (Graphics FPS) mode.
AquaMark 3 is a very demanding DirectX 9 benchmark, and once again we're looking at a very close race between the top ATI and NVIDIA mid-range video cards. ASUS does come out slightly ahead, but we're talking a minimal difference, though the relative gap with AA and AF enabled is a bit larger.